The Armenian Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator (RAMSES)
THE ARMENIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL OF ST. GREGORY the Illuminator is situated at 179 Ramses Street, not far from the Cairo railway station. The site houses the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate, the Torkomian Library, and the Apkarian Medical Center.
The building was constructed from August 1924 to May 1927 under the direction of architect Levon Nafilian and Des Pharos, Inc., together with the combined efforts of local and international artisans. It was financed by sums bequeathed by Gregory Eghiayan, Dikran Dabro Pasha, and Boghos Nubar Pasha. Archbishop Torkom Koushagian, the prelate of Egypt, consecrated the church in February 1928. The church is not parallel to the street but aligned so that the altar is on the east side and the vestibule (narthex) on the west.
There is a mosaic representing St. Gregory the Illuminator above the entrance. Upon entering the church one is surrounded by ornate designs, from the craftsmanship in the stone carvings and woodwork to the icons, of which the most significant is that of the Conversion of Armenia by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The southern end of the vestibule (narthex) was dedicated in 1965 to the victims of the 1915 massacres. The walls combine red Belgian marble and yellow Asian marble, while the tiles used on the walls were brought from Paris. The height of the church from the ground level to the dome is 35 meters high. The church’s roof is supported by eighteen granite pillars with capitals decorated by leaves, birds, and animals. The wall paintings of the apse depict Christ in Majesty flanked by three kneeling angels on each side. Below him are the twelve apostles. The altar’s dome is decorated with a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The church has nine bells, six of them named after Orthodox saints. The other three are used to ring in the Orthodox holy days.